The Best Postnatal Vitamins to Support Recovery and Breastfeeding

Supplement your healthy routine with a daily postnatal vitamin.
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By Martina Garvey, E-Commerce Editor
Updated November 21, 2023
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Let’s face it, between pregnancy and labor your body’s been through the wringer. So it’s no surprise that it needs a little extra support during recovery. That’s where postnatal vitamins come in. While there’s no magic formula for postpartum recovery, a targeted multivitamin can help fill nutritional gaps and foster a healthy milk supply, if you choose to breastfeed.

Trying to decide whether you should keep up with your prenatal vitamin or switch to a postnatal option? We’re here to help break down the facts. Read on for our comprehensive guide on postnatal vitamins to learn benefits, key ingredients and more, then check out our roundup of the best postnatal vitamins available now.

Do You Need a Postnatal Vitamin?

According to Gil Weiss, MD, an ob-gyn based in Chicago, postnatal vitamins aren’t essential for every postpartum person. That said, there are many times when taking one may be helpful. A multivitamin can be beneficial for new parents experiencing a nutrient deficiency, due to the demands of pregnancy, labor and lactation. Important nutrients, minerals and vitamins such as iron, calcium, vitamin D, folic acid and vitamin B12 may be lacking at this time.

Of course, a healthy diet and balanced lifestyle play big roles in postpartum recovery—but some recovering parents may need a little help rebuilding their nutritional stores. “It can be difficult to consume enough recommended vitamins and minerals through diet alone, especially if nauseated or quite busy in the postnatal period,” explains Maria Silver Pyanov, CPD, a certified postpartum doula and childbirth educator in Philadelphia.

To that end, she advises new moms to seek personalized medical advice before adding a supplement to their diet, especially if breastfeeding.

How long should you take postnatal vitamins for?

If you decide to start taking a postnatal vitamin, Weiss advises keeping up with the routine for at least six to eight weeks after giving birth, especially if you’re breastfeeding. There’s no hard deadline for when to stop taking a postpartum supplement; some nursing parents continue to take them until baby is fully weaned.

Prenatal vs Postnatal Vitamins

Still have a stash of prenatal vitamins at home? The good news is that you can continue taking them. “It’s totally safe to take prenatal vitamins during your postpartum period,” confirms Weiss. In fact, many care providers recommend new parents continue to take their prenatal vitamins during the fourth trimester.

The main difference between a prenatal and postnatal vitamin comes down to ingredients. “Prenatal vitamins usually have higher levels of folic acid and iron, which help support a developing fetus during pregnancy. While postnatal vitamins contain more calcium and vitamin D to help support breastfeeding,” explains Weiss. Another difference is that postnatal supplements sometimes include vitamin A, which isn’t recommended during pregnancy, and typically won’t be present in a prenatal vitamin.

Ingredients to Look for in Postnatal Vitamins

While a healthy diet should provide a high proportion of your daily nutrition, taking a postnatal vitamin can act as a safety net to ensure you’re getting the daily recommended vitamins and minerals. So what ingredients should you look for in a postnatal vitamin? At a minimum, they should have iron, calcium, vitamin D, folic acid and vitamin B12, says Weiss. Below find a brief explaining why each vitamin and mineral listed above is important for new moms.

  • Iron. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an iron supplement, taken alone or with folic acid, reduces the risk of anemia in the 6 -to 12-week period after birth. Regardless of whether you have a c-section or vaginal delivery, many women become anemic after birth due to blood loss. Lean red meat and dark leafy greens offer a natural source of iron.

  • Calcium. This mineral—found in dairy products, greens and fortified foods like breakfast cereals—is very important if you choose to breastfeed. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the calcium found in your breast milk is sourced from your own stores (primarily from your bones). Getting at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day ensures that your bones will remain strong after you’ve weaned baby.

  • Vitamin D. Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and supports bone strength. According to the AAP, most experts recommend getting at least 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day, but some suggest getting as much as 1,000 IU.

  • Folic acid. This is a type of B vitamin that helps the body generate new cells. Folic acid is vital before, during and after pregnancy and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends women take 400 micrograms (mcg) per day. Many postnatal supplements contain folate, which is a general term used to describe many different forms of vitamin B9.

  • Vitamin B12. This essential vitamin keeps your blood and nerve cells healthy and helps prevent anemia. According to the National Institutes of Health (NHI), the average daily recommended amount for breastfeeding women is 2.8 micrograms.

The Best Postnatal Vitamins

Some postnatal vitamin brands make big claims, and it can be hard to read through the lines. Focusing on the ingredients list will help you find the right fit. “As long as the postnatal vitamins contain the appropriate nutrients, minerals and vitamins, they should be appropriate,” says Weiss. To help you get started, we’ve rounded up some of the best postnatal vitamins available. Talk to your doctor, and choose one that best addresses your specific needs.

Best complete postnatal vitamin

What We Love
  • Lactation-boosting ingredients
  • Non-GMO and vegetarian
  • Contains 20 ob-gyn recommended nutrients
Things To Consider
  • Pack only contains a 30-day supply

Pink Stork’s postnatal vitamin contains all of the essential nutrients you need for postpartum life. Folate, the naturally occurring form of folic acid, supports baby’s development through breast milk; iron works to revitalize energy levels and omega-3 DHA fatty acid helps boost Mom’s mood and milk production. These three key ingredients work in combination with other nutrients to support general immune health and postpartum recovery. Plus, these postnatal supplements are GMO-, gluten-, soy- and dairy-free.

Key ingredients: Calcium | Vitamin B12 | Vitamin D | Iron | Folate

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Best vegan postnatal vitamin

Ritual Essential Postnatal Multivitamin
Image: Ritual
Buying Options
What We Love
  • Delayed-release capsule
  • Vegan, non-GMO and gluten free
  • Mint flavor
Things To Consider
  • Vitamin doesn’t contain calcium

Need a postnatal vitamin that works with your vegan or vegetarian lifestyle? Check out Ritual’s Essential for Women Postnatal Vitamin. Formulated to support new moms for six+ months after birth, this vitamin contains 15 traceable ingredients. It also offers increased lactation support, thanks to a high dose of iodine, biotin and choline, plus 350 mg of omega-3 DHA, which helps support the fatty acid content of breast milk. What’s more, the minty fresh flavor makes it easy to swallow, and the slow-release capsule is gentle on your sensitive tummy.

Key ingredients: Vitamin B12 | Vitamin D | Iron | Folate

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Best whole-food postnatal vitamin

What We Love
  • Non-GMO project verified
  • Gluten-free and vegetarian
  • Nutrients from whole-food ingredients may be easier to absorb
Things To Consider
  • No added calcium

With multiple certifications for safety and purity, MegaFood’s Baby & Me 2 vitamin is a great pick for health-conscious moms. Formulated for optimal nutrition and lactation support, this supplement contains organic moringa leaf to boost milk production—plus all of the vitamins and minerals you need. Better yet, the real food blend, made from oranges, brown rice and vegetables, is grown on non-GMO verified farms.

Key ingredients: Vitamin B12 | Vitamin D3 | Iron | Folate

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Best single dose postnatal vitamin

What We Love
  • Gluten-free
  • Easy to swallow
  • One vitamin provides complete nutritional support
Things To Consider
  • These capsules aren't vegetarian

Do you struggle to swallow pills? Try these soft-gel capsules. The one-a-day postnatal vitamin is formulated to support postpartum health and meet the increased nutritional needs of breastfeeding moms. This supplement also contains omega-3 fish oil, which strengthens skin, hair and nails. The capsules are easy to wash down and don’t have an unpleasant aftertaste.

Key ingredients: Calcium | Vitamin B12 | Vitamin D3 | Iron | Folate

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Best postnatal vitamin pill pack

Perelel Mom Multi Support Pack
Image: Perelel Health
What We Love
  • Non-GMO and free from gluten, dairy and soy
  • Beauty blend contains collagen for hair, skin and nails
  • Multivitamin was developed by obstetricians and maternal fetal medicine doctors
Things To Consider
  • Vitamins don’t contain calcium
  • Each daily pack contains five capsules

Perelel pill packs contain four different supplements—including two mom multivitamins, an omega DHA + EPA softgel, a beauty blend and a stress support blend—that work together to offer full nutritional support to new moms. Better yet, Perelel vitamins are backed by research and created by doctors to fight nausea. And you can take 15% off sitewide with the code BUMP15.

Key ingredients: Vitamin B12 | Vitamin D | Iron | Folate

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Best postnatal vitamin for lactation support

What We Love
  • Offers complete nutritional support
  • Non-GMO plant-based ingredients
  • Gentle on the stomach
Things To Consider
  • The dosage is three capsules daily

This plant-based supplement was designed to support nursing moms. It’s easy on the tummy and contains a blend of organic herbs traditionally used to help boost milk supply, including fenugreek, blessed thistle, fennel, alfalfa and stinging nettle. The best part? It offers 100 percent of your daily requirements for essential vitamins like A, C, D3, E, K2 and B complex, plus minerals like iodine, zinc and selenium. Moreover, it’s an affordable option to boot.

Key ingredients: Calcium | Vitamin B12 | Vitamin D | Iron | Folate

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How We Chose the Best Postnatal Vitamins

We get it—pregnancy and labor can take a toll on your mental and physical health. While there’s no magic pill (unfortunately) a good pre- and postnatal vitamin can help your body keep up with the demands of parenthood.

To streamline your decision-making process, our goal is to do the bulk of the research for you, so you don’t have to spend hours scrolling through online retailers. We do this by considering a list of criteria when sourcing vitamins, including nutrition, value and, last but definitely not least, safety. This way you can count on getting the best bang for your buck, while also having a dependable multivitamin that will meet your postpartum needs.

To decide which postnatal vitamins are the best options on the market, we leverage our familiarity with leading brands to make sure items are from reliable manufacturers. We read user reviews to get the lowdown on how these products work for people, and typically don’t consider anything with less than an average four-star rating.

To make sure we’re highlighting vitamins that are safe and effective, we consulted an ob-gyn and postpartum doula to understand essential nutritional factors and safety considerations to keep top of mind. We also read recommendations from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Institutes of Health.

Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.

About the experts:

Gil Weiss, MD, is an ob-gyn at the Association for Women’s Health Care, serving women in Chicago and Northbrook, Illinois. Weiss attended medical school at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, and completed his residency at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Maria Silver Pyanov, CPD, CCE, is a certified postpartum doula, birth doula and childbirth educator. She provides services to new and expecting parents in the Philadelphia area.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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